We then headed over a fairly spooky BN 5, a "birch ramp" (vertical planks with contrasting black/white on the planks, placed in a tree line so it went from sun to shade as you went over), then circled back to pick up the novice ditch combo - a narrow but probably BN height coop to the ditch. He hesitated at both the picket fence and the coop, but again flowed nicely forward when I closed my leg.
Next we circled over the novice birch ramp to the novice mulch table. He hesitated and tried a bit to sneak left at the ramp and ended up sliding a bit on pine needles so had to really jump UP from the base of the fence. The left thing was my fault, I brought him in a tiny bit angled that direction and thought "gee, you've had better plans to spooky jumps before..." We still got it done though. We galloped on after that to the mulch table to "put the confidence back in the piggy bank" as JT says about funky jumps or striding that is off. He jumped table really well, and we headed up another bit of a stretch to a novice bending line combination and followed by another gallop down to a novice table. He took all of it in stride, not batting an eye at the bending line, which had a skinny log for part B.
We played over the banks next. We started off going down the training side. He stuck a little bit at the top of it, but actually did really well once I let him look and then did a tiny circle to give him some forward momentum. I was always taught not to let them turn away from it, but he is SO freaking honest, I think once he had a chance to look and figure it out, he just needed the tiny bit of forward to do it. Then we did the training bank combo, jump up, two or three strides (some day I will start counting strides, not today though...), and then down. We did that twice and he was pretty proud of himself about it.
We finished over the last part of the novice course, a ramp, circle around to a table, then over a log (I picked a random, not flagged log, JT had meant the hanging log that was part of the course), through the water, to a log ramp for part B of the water complex. He jumped the spooky ramp, table, and log so well. He hesitated for a second at the water, breaking slowly from canter to trot to walk, but he never stopped. He picked the trot back up in the water and slipped right into a nice canter at the waters edge to pop over the log ramp. I let him enjoy a little gallop after that before easily pulling him up with loads of pats. He has the most lovely, flowing gallop, it is so much fun to ride. And other than that one time he tried taking the bit and actually running at Majestic, he is so responsive and also so easy to stop.
He had a few hesitations and wiggles, but is THE BESTEST BOY, so all it takes is closing my leg and he responds. He also improved throughout the day with the last loop just feeling so confident and nice. This was our fourth time schooling cross country together, and he took on almost the entire novice course. He napped in between our turns and was really just all around incredible. JT said we should do novice at the Majestic Oaks schooling show in December before realizing we haven't actually done a BN event yet. She then rephrased it to we'll pop up the stadium jumps a bit and keep schooling and see whether we do BN or N. I am so pleased with this kid, he has been the most fun to bring along. He knows his job so well and just gets it done. It has come so quickly to him to just take me to the jumps like he's been doing this for years.